Congress Expected To Take Up Health Care Issues
The takeover of Congress by Democrats in January 2007 "could provide a new push for health care and medical legislation," the Baltimore Sun reports. Prior to the midterm elections, Democrats said that they would seek to pass legislation to allow Medicare to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies for discounts on prescription drugs (Rockoff, Baltimore Sun, 11/12).
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is expected to become House speaker, has said that she will seek to pass such legislation within the first 100 hours after the House convenes (Coile, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/12).
In addition, Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), who is expected to become chair of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, has said he will seek to pass legislation to reduce reimbursement rates for private health insurers that offer Medicare Advantage plans.
Democrats also might seek to "trim the cost of injectable medicine" under Medicare, the Chronicle reports (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/12).
Democrats likely will "dare the president to veto a bill" to expand federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, the Chronicle reports (Coile, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/12). In an effort to reach a compromise with President Bush, who opposes expanded federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, Democrats might include in such legislation new restrictions on cloning and other areas of the research (Hall, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/12).
In addition, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who is expected to become chair of the House Committee on Government Reform, last week said that early next year he will introduce a bill to establish an FDA approval process for generic biotech medications (Costello, Los Angeles Times, 11/11).
Democrats and Bush also "could find common ground" on legislation to provide tax credits to small businesses that offer health insurance to employees, the Chronicle reports (Coile, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/12).